Posted on 8 March 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Saiunkoku Monogatari


I can sort-of understand why people often are reluctant to check out very lengthy series. After all, they’re a huge commitment and it’s very hard to tell whether it will turn out worthwhile or not if you have to sit through more than sixty episodes. Series like Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball Z and Inuyasha went on and on, amidst pointless fillers, and just could have gotten so much better if they were just 1/4th of their original length.

Still, let me say that for every lengthy series that screws up, you can always find a lengthy series that’s absolutely worth the commitment. Take Legend of Galactic Heroes, Gintama, or any of the World Masterpiece series. And of course Saiunkoku Monogatari. It’s set in a world, reminiscent of ancient China, and follows Shuurei, as she tries to be the first female govermnent official, in a male-dominated society.

Of course, there’s much more to the story than just that. The series starts out as an innocent shoujo love-drama, but soon enough this series shows its josei-roots and develops its huge cast of characters perfectly. Be sure to expect lots of politics. The different arcs are very different from each other, and they’re more than enough to keep this series interesting though its entire run. And of course, there’s quite a bit of romance as well, but don’t expect standard Shoujo-romance here. Quite often, you see two characters who are in love with each other, yet can never be together due to their social status, or the things they did in the past.

I do want to note, though, that some parts of this series are less interesting than others. Saiunkoku Monogatari has a couple of incredibly deep and well-developed characters, but it needs to build up a lot in order to achieve this. There will be a few arcs that aren’t that special, other than that they build up for some amazing scenes, later on in the series. It’s also a shame that the final quarter of the series builds up to a third season that’ll probably arrive in two or three years. The final few episodes also showcase some dramatic budget-problems, with three recap-episodes within twenty episodes, so that’s also something to take into account.

Still, despite the flaws, Saiunkoku remains a versatile and engaging series. If you liked The Twelve Kingdoms (I haven’t seen the series myself, but I hear from everywhere that that’s another excellent series), you’ll definitely like this series. Now all that’s left is to wait a few years for the third season to arrive!

Posted on with categories: Saiunkoku Monogatari


What a wonderful episode to close off the second series! This was hands down, the best episode ever since Shuurei got back from the Sa-clan. Thank you, Madhouse, for not leaving a bad taste at the end, while we have to wait who knows how many years for season three. The end of the episode closed off quite a few storylines, and yet it hinted that there’s still so much more to come. I really hope that the creators will realize this, and haven’t planned to end this series here.

But still, finally this series is over. For the past two years, it’s been my top-source of google-hits and out of all the series I’ve blogged, Saiunkoku Monogatari has received by far the most page-views, even comparing this to Death Note and Claymore. No other series also has as many posts as this one, although I guess that Jigoku Shoujo and Higurashi will come quite close when their third season finishes. Really, it’s sad to see this series gone now. I’ll put it on finished for now, until we get some real confirmations that a third season is under production.

It was also a delight to see Kouyuu and Shuuei back together. The two of them form such a great team with their banter. Suou also seems to have moved his family to the countryside, while he carries out some kind of mission for Kouki. We also learn that Anju is none other than Kouki’s ally. But the best part of the episode was of course seeing Ryuuki and Shuurei back together. It draws quite a parallel with episode 39 of the first season, which also ended with a similar series, but this time, Ryuuki’s development made that scene so different. Back then, he was just a weak little coward, screaming for Shuurei’s affection, but now he really seems to have accepted his task as an emperor. He’s now not just trying to become a good emperor because of Shuurei, and that’s what he realized when he was in the Ran-province.

Now, if you excuse me, I have to go write a review that does this series justice. ^^;

Posted on 1 March 2008 with categories: Saiunkoku Monogatari


I’m not exactly sure why… this episode was a clear aftermath and yet I found it was one of the most enjoyable ones of the third arc so far. I originally thought that seeing Shuuei and Ryuuki develop would be the best thing about the final episodes of the second season, but seeing them actually use this development turned out much more interesting.

Overall, the Kouki-arc just didn’t match up to the Government-Official-arc and the Sa-Province-arc, but that’s only logical. I now see that this arc is far from over, and all that the episodes have been doing is building up. Even the past few mini-arcs were just meant to develop the cast, and to make them ready for the real meat of this arc. It’s just like the Sa-province arc. The first twenty-or-so episodes also were a bit disappointing at times, and Sakujun took a lot of episodes to become likable, but the second half of that arc, with the disease and all simply rocked.

I really hope that Madhouse will continue next year with the third season for Saiunkoku Monogatari. There are just too many interesting plot-points unresolved to not let it happen: there’s Ouki, who’ll be trying more and more to take over the throne, which will bring Kouki, Seiga, Shuurei and Suou more to the foreground as they will definitely be asked to investigate and prevent this takeover. Then there’s the Bara-hime storyline with the big Riou and of course the big mystery about Sakujun’s whereabouts. Furthermore, we still haven’t seen anything of the plans to marry Kouyuu out to Shuurei. Then there’s also Seiga, who majorly lacks in development, considering how important his character is. Overall, that’s more than enough to fill a third season and close this story off properly. Please, Madhouse, don’t abandon this series just yet!

On other news, I was pretty surprised that Shouka didn’t prepare any explanation whatsoever to Shuurei about what the heck he was doing when Ryuuki wandered off on his own. I doubt that he would never make such a mistake to anyone other than Shuurei and Bara-hime. I think that that’s one of the reasons why he originally fell in love with Bara-hime. Somehow, he just couldn’t get his assassin-act together in front of her. ^^;

Posted on 23 February 2008 with categories: Saiunkoku Monogatari


Now this is what I’ve been hoping for! This episode was terrific in terms of storyline. So many things happened at once, and finally the building-up of the previous half year is paying ff. But still, it’s so sad to see that the budget-problems become more and more apparent. Such a major episode should be paired with terrific animation, like what we saw around the climax of the first half of the second season. Instead, the creators treated us to lots of distance-shots, thick lines and still frames. I really don’t like the trend that MadHouse has been setting to screw up their adaptations as they draw near their end! I mean, they’ve got excellent staff, but I’m getting more and more the feeling that it’s their producers who are incredibly lazy.

Well, putting that aside, another reason why I loved this episode was because it again was quite easy to understand. The ship with Ensei, Suou, Shurei and Ryuuren crashes off a waterfall. As everyone becomes conscious again, Ryuuren goes off to find some springs for water, after which Shun comes to pick up Shuurei, by the orders of his master. His orders were to take just Shuurei away, so Ensei and Suou stay behind and collect supplies for the way back.

As Shuurei and Shun walk up the mountain to the castle, Shuurei asks whether he’s heard about Shiba Jin, though Shun says that she had the wrong person. The two then enter the castle, and Shun brings Shurei to the prison cell where Ryuuki lies. Shuurei is really glad to see that he’s fine, though before she has the time to call out to him, Shusui appears, using the same spell that failed, twenty episodes ago. Shuurei then falls unconscious and gets taken away.

We then switch to Ryuuki, who’s finally woken up. Right next to him stands a Shusui, who claims that she’s possessed by a member of the Hyou-clan, which is why she’s acting so weird. I guess she was an easy target for them, because she already lost herself before. In any case, Shusui begins to taunt Ryuuki at how he’s incompetent at his job, and how he should just give up. After this, Ryuki begins to develop even more. That night on the mountains has really convinced him what an idiot he’s been, and he’s determined to now become a real king.

Then, Ran appears. It indeed seems that he’s been following Ryuuki all along, and after hearingt his confession, he decides to step in and save Ryuuki from Shushui. After this, the Hyou-member orders Shun to take care of Ryuuki, leaving the body afterwards. Shusui then turns into her fighter-mode again and starts chasing after Shuuei. Juusanhime also arrives to stop her, after which quite a funny conversation follows, where Shuuei ends up using a dirty trick to remind Shusui of Shouka. After a few slaps from Shuuei, Shusui returns to normal.

Juusanhime then stays to fight Shun, while Shuuei, Ryuuki and Shusui escape. When they are out of the castle, Shusui goes back in to save Shuurei. Shuuei then brings Ryuuki back to Suou, and goes back along with Ryuren to save Shuurei. Ensei went ahead of them, as he seemed to have the same idea. As Ryuuki wakes up, he wants to go back to save Shuurei, though Suou stops him. After all, he’s the king and everyone just went through the trouble of saving him. After hearing this, he finally understands a new part of his responsibilities.

Meanwhile, back in the castle Shuurei is still unconscious. The member of the Ryou-clan seems to be called Ruka, and it was basically her plan to use Ryuuki to lure the Bara-hime in Shuurei towards her. It’s here where Shouka in scary-mode appears again, and breaks some kind of mirror that’s important for Ruka. Strangely enough, Ruka doesn’t seem to be shocked by this, so at least something must have gone according to her plan. In another part of the Castle, Juusanhime now gets the chance to finally say goodbye to Shiba Jin, as it really seems that he works for the enemy and he’s out to kill Ryuuki. That scene seriously rocked.

There’s one thing I don’t understand, though: what’s the real relationship between Shun and Shusui? Where did they meet each other? Is Shun the reason Shusui gets possessed? Which Shusui went along with Shun to the castle? Did she come on her own accord, or was she already possessed by Ruka back then?

In any case, let’s hope that the final two episodes end the second season with a bang, so that the creators can return in a year or two to finish this story. With such a fan-base, there’s a good chance that it’ll happen some day. But then again, Claymore was even more popular, needed a second season even more badly and there are still no signs of any continuation… which leaves me kind-of worried.

Posted on 16 February 2008 with categories: Saiunkoku Monogatari


There are three episodes left. Then, what the heck is a recap-episode doing here? This shows more and more that the creators just need to take a break for a year, and get their budgets and planning fully sorted out, because right now it seems that they just can’t keep up with their own schedule. Unfortunately, the planning-department of Madhouse just isn’t as good as that of for example Nippon Animation, which basically showcased Les Miserables without any break or recap at all, and looks to do the same for Porfy no Nagai Tabi.

The only new scenes are of Ryuuki, developing and reflecting on his own actions. Thankfully, this made the episode not a total waste of time, but this remains lazy on the creator’s side. Thankfully, the development that Ryuuki went through was very good, and the episode prepared really well for the final three episodes.

My main worry is that Madhouse has become infamous for screwing up slightly with their adaptations. For most part, they adapt faithfully, but when it comes to the details, you can always see cut corners. This isn’t like Gonzo, where they basically rewrite more than half of the original source-material; with Madhouse, the changes just feel lazy. Just a few examples:
– Shigurui: Entire final chapters left unanimated, with no intention to do so either.
– Devil May Cry: turned into random plotless fillers.
– Claymore: went with an original story after episode 21 and changed from an engaging plot to a cheesy final battle.
– Death Note: a rushed second half with many pages omitted.
– Gunslinger Girl: no intentions to animate the plot-heavy second half of the manga, so they went with their own ending.
– Pet Shop of Horrors: Just four chapters animated, no information on main character whatsoever.

I think you can understand my worries. Right now, Saiunkoku Monogatari really needs a second season, but I can’t help but fear that Madhouse will screw up with the little details again, and it’s such a pity to see this happen, right when we’re about to hit such an rumoured excellent part of the original novels.

Posted on 9 February 2008 with categories: Saiunkoku Monogatari


There are just two things I don’t like about Saiunkoku Monogatari: the fact that the slow subs have forced me to watch it raw, meaning that I don’t understand half of most of the episodes without Impz’s help, and all these random hiatuses it’s been having. For the past few months, I realized that it’s really important for this series to continue on a weekly basis, otherwise it loses me a bit in the middle of the action. Thankfully, it seems that the final episodes of the second season won’t have anymore random hiatuses like that, so that eliminates the second point for now. ^^;

And really, Ryuuki stole the show this episode! Finally, he’s actually starting to develop, along with Juusanhime. His sadness on the boat towards Shuuei really surprised me, and it seems that he’s really regretting how he ran away from all of his responsibilities, yet again. There’s even a possibility that he won’t be able to return as the king, which is especially unnerving, considering that a few episodes back, we saw that one of these guys had plans to take over Ryuuki’s throne.

In her turn, Juusanhime finally reveals her history with Shiba Jin. It seems that at one point, her mother died (of which circumstances, I don’t know, though; I’m not even sure whether that was revealed). Shiba Jin was then sent to kill her off too, but he couldn’t. Eventually, after three days if I picked this up correctly, Shiba Jin ended up cutting out his own eye and went along with her to the main house of the Ran Clan, and ever since the two had been in love. The two of them spent most of their childhood years together, along with Shuuei, but at one point Jin killed his own father. I’m not sure why, but if I had to guess, then it’d be because he tried to do something against Juusanhime. Probably to finish the task that Jin never could complete.

Posted on 2 February 2008 with categories: Saiunkoku Monogatari


Haha! This has to be the most comprehensible Saiunkoku Monogatari-episode I’ve seen in months. Finally I can understand things again without the help of Impz’s summaries. ^^; Sure, there were a few things that I didn’t pick up, but I’m glad enough that at least this episode didn’t feel like a giant Rubik’s Cube.

The episode starts after what happened at the end of the last episode, and Ensei cheers Shuurei up a bit. He then also agrees to go along with her to the Ran-clan. Ensei also notices that Shuurei hasn’t been sleeping well, so he forces her to go to sleep, while Seiran notices this and threatens to kill the guy. After this, Seiran asks Ensei to make sure that Shuurei returns safely from the Ran-clan.

We then switch to Shouka, Juusanhime and Ryuuki, leaving the capital, with Seiran and Yuushun seeing them off. The next scene is between Shuurei and Ki Kouki, who asks Shuurei that now that she’s going to the Ran-province anyway, that she should investigate a guy named “Shiba Jin”, and I think that Shuurei knows fully well what this means if she goes in too deep, and Juusanhime’s lover might get arrested if she does her job of investigating too well. He also orders her to bring back a few souvenirs, and to not go after Ryuuki if he decides to agree with his engagement with Juusanhime. When Shuurei runs off, she passes Seiga, and the guy has a really suspicious grin on his face while she passes him.

Next up, we see Ensei, Shuurei and Suou in a carriage, heading to the port. They then get surprised by an overly worried father of Suou, who underwent a total change of characters since we saw him first. It seems that he’s really proud of his son now, and he’s still thankful to Shuurei on how sh got him out of prison, it seems. At least, I think that Shuurei was the one who did that, I could be wrong. In any case, he entrusts Suou to Shuurei for the trip. ^^;

The next scene shows Shun and Shusui, as they too seem to be heading for the Ran-province. Shusui isn’t doing well, though, and she struggles to go up the mountains. For some reason, Shun also puts up an eye-patch, to cover for the eye he’s missing. Shusui then mentions a number of strange characters, though that story is one I couldn’t pick up. What’s important, though, is that at one point, she gets possessed again by that strange thing that got hold of her a few episodes back. She calls this thing “Ruka-sama”.

Shuuei has meanwhile finally arrived at the Ran-palace. His triplet-brothers aren’t there, but his brother Ryuuren and his sister Gyoku (I think that’s how she was called) are present. Ryuuren takes off into the woods again, and Shuuei gets to reuinite with his sister. The thing is that he wasn’t really keen on that, and for some reason he was reluctant to meet her. I didn’t pick up exactly why, as she seemed like a really nice person (they even played together when they were kids), though if I had to guess then he did some thing to hurt her in the past. I didn’t pick up what exactly that was, though. Also, Setsuna, is that the name of one of Shuuei’s triplet-brothers, or is that yet another of his brothers?

The episode ends with the ship on which Shuurei, Suou and Ensei are sailing in order to get to the Ran-province. Suou gets seasick, and Ensei’s remedy is basically to knock the guy out so that he’s unconscious during the trip. ^^; The ship then gets struck by a whirlpool that the area is famous for. According to a local legend, one person once threw a manju in the whirlpools and they disappeared. For some reason, Shuurei thinks that this legend is important somehow.

On a side-note, those whirlpools were really badly animated, but then again, this is Madhouse. Their animation is either incredibly good or incredibly bad, and you can really see in this episode that it was meant to save a bit of animation-budget.

Posted on 26 January 2008 with categories: Saiunkoku Monogatari


Okay, so this may not be the best series to watch with a headache. The dialogue is hard enough as it is, and that headache didn’t make things better. Still, at least I’m glad that Saiunkoku Monogatari seems to be back again. I’m really starting to get impatient with this series. I want to see Ryuuki develop already! I know it’s close, but it had already been close two freaking months ago. With all the hiatuses from this series, I’d really wish that this series would hurry up and get on with it.

This episode basically introduces the next mini-arc. Something seems to be going on in the Ran-province, and Shuurei manages to get permission from Ki Kouki to travel there and check it out. It seems to involve a guy named Son Chouchou, whose role I unfortunately couldn’t pick up. We also see more of the villain for this arc, who seems to have teamed up with the suspicious-looking noble whose name I can’t remember at the time.

Interestingly enough, Ryuuki too will be heading to te Ran-province, along with Shouka. I’m really glad that this guy finally gets some attention again. He was one of my favourite characters whenever he played a major role, so I’ve been a bit disappointed that he’s had so little attention for the past half year.

Now that I think about it, does anyone know how long the second season will last? AniDB says that it’ll end with episode 39, but I just don’t trust that website as an official source. And there is no way that this series will be resolved in six episodes. Of course, that could mean that there’s a third season, waiting to air in the upcoming spring-season. That would be awesome, though I really hope that the building-up of the past months will be worth it.

Posted on 12 January 2008 with categories: Saiunkoku Monogatari


Whoa, after the confusing previous episode, the current one totally makes up for it with probably some of the best scenes ever since the end of the Eigetsu-arc. We finally see Juusanhime and Shun together, and we finally learn a bit more about them. Shun’s original name was Shiba Jin, and he lived together with Juusanhime at one point, where she fell in love with him, even though the age-difference between the two was quite large. Then, at one point something happened that caused Jin to change his name, become a prisoner/delinquent/bandit/something and foresake the Ran-clan.

The woman who was with him was indeed Shusui, and only now we see how serious her headaches of the previous episodes were. I didn’t quite catch how he did it, but the fact remains that Shusui lost herself and tried to kill Juusanhime in this episode, if it wasn’t for Ensei, she’d be dead by now. And to think that Shuuei was right there as well, finding out that the woman he longed for tried to kill his own sister.

In the second half of the episode, Shuurei gets basically taken off the case of Juusanhime, because well, she rather failed to protect her. We also see Shuuei, who now really says farewell to Ryuuki. If I had to guess, then there were more things that happened in the past with him, and I guess that he just can’t keep on living like he did for the past two years. I assume that the future episodes will show us more about the guy’s past.

There were a few things I didn’t understand, though. Like, why was the prison with Tantan attacked? And what was the purpose of the match between Ran and Ryuuki?

Posted on 5 January 2008 with categories: Saiunkoku Monogatari


With episodes like this one, I’m glad that people like Impz can churn out reliable summaries. A lot of stuff happened in this episode, but it was also incredibly hard to understand with my limited level of Japanese.

Basically, from what I understood, this episode shows the death of one of the guys who’s after Juusanhime’s life. He’s killed by Shun, in front of Seiga and a whole number of guards. What Seiga was doing there, or what is exact role was in this whole matter, I have no idea of, though. We also get introduced to two new characters: Shun’s assistant (who is quite a good fighter), and a rather young head of the guard. He’ll probably have some kind of small role in the next couple of episode. We never know his name, but there has to be a reason for him to get a unique character-design.

Ensei also returns, when Shuurei runs into him in prison. It seems that he ended up there after he saved Juusanhime from her attackers back then. What’s also interesting is how Juusanhime’s assailants have the same mark on their forehead as Shun. Are they all members of some kind of clan or family, which rivals with the Ran-family, perhaps?

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